Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports


49ers’ Laken Tomlinson listed among ESPN’s most underappreciated NFL players

Sep 24, 2021 at 8:00 AM--


The San Francisco 49ers have a decision to make after this offseason. Guard Laken Tomlinson has been a solid part of the team's offensive line since a trade in 2017 sent him to the Bay Area from the Detroit Lions.

Tomlinson is Pro Football Focus' third-highest graded (81.0) NFL guard this season. Only Michael Onwenu (82.6) of the New England Patriots and Joel Bitonio (84.8) of the Cleveland Browns grade higher. The 49ers guard has allowed just one pressure in 62 pass-blocking snaps.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler spoke with NFL executives and coaches around the league and, based on those conversations, created a list of the most underappreciated talents at 10 different positions. He listed Tomlinson at guard.

"No longer is Tomlinson known as the first-round pick who didn't work out in Detroit," Fowler wrote. "He's a key cog to one of the game's best running attacks. Tomlinson is thriving in his fifth season as a guard in San Francisco, posting an 81.0 Pro Football Focus grade through two games. The 49ers viewed Tomlinson as their most consistent lineman last year and someone they'd like to re-sign."

Tomlinson doesn't get a lot of league recognition. He has never been selected to a Pro Bowl, despite then-teammate Joe Staley campaigning on his behalf for the All-Star honor in 2019.

"He's a guy that no one blows up," Staley said. "No one shows love to the offensive linemen, but Laken is playing terrific football this season. He's setting the tone in the run game. He's been super consistent. He's putting in a ton of hard work this year. He's one of the main reasons why, offensively, we're putting up the numbers we are. It's because of his consistent performance."

Said one NFC scout via Fowler: "I know they love [Tomlinson] over there. That zone blocking scheme is perfect for him, where he can use his athleticism in space."
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